The Friend Card

batman-312342_640Among any group of really good friends, you will always find some version of the Friend Card.  The Friend Card is sort of like the Bat Signal; you can only use it in an emergency, but when you do, your friends have to drop what they’re doing, get in their bat-mobiles, and come help you however they can.  They don’t have to show up in a superhero costume (although bonus points if they do), but they do have to show up.

Not all Friend Card-worthy emergencies are harrowing tales of woe, of course.  A lot of them are the kind you eventually end up laughing about. For me, the memories of times I’ve played the Friend Card have turned into some of my favorite stories to tell.  For instance, there was the time I went on a date and had to have a friend come to the restaurant to rescue me:

The Time I Went On A Date And Had To Have A Friend Come Rescue Me

It’s not that the date went badly, it’s that I’d worn an old pair of pants that split down the back seam halfway through the night. Yes, it was hilarious.  Are you done laughing yet?  Okay, how about now?  Good.  So, in the Not Great column, I was in a crowded restaurant with my “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” underwear on full display (stop judging me).  In the Could Be Worse column, I was in the ladies’ room when it happened, which I’ve always taken as proof that God is a chick.

After I got done freaking out, I called a girlfriend who was about my size, invoked the Friend Card, and skulked in a stall until she could bring me some pants that didn’t violate public decency laws.  It took a comparative eon and a few months off my life, but my friend finally got to the restaurant and headed discreetly to the bathroom, where she handed me a nice pair of her own pants to change into and then immediately left so I could continue my date.  She even snuck my ripped pants out with her so my date wouldn’t see them—star power!

The rest of the night went very well, and I’m ashamed to say that my friend’s pants got pretty badly wrinkled by the time I returned them the next day.  No, that’s not true.  I’m actually not ashamed at all.  So, under the circumstances, I think that was a solid use of the Friend Card and a fine performance by my friend.  She still makes fun of me for it, but she gets to because she came through in the clutch.  And because I wrinkled her pants.

Then, of course, there’s the time I decided it was a good idea to skip the salon and bleach my hair at home:

The Time I Decided It Was A Good Idea To Skip The Salon And Bleach My Hair At Home

I was trying to save money, and I’d thoroughly researched home hair bleaching techniques on the internet.  With what I now realize was undue faith in YouTube tutorials, I followed the instructions exactly, settled myself by an open window, and tried to ignore the way my scalp had caught fire.  When it was time to check under the hood, so to speak, I looked in the bathroom mirror and omigod my hair is orange panic panic panic ask google what to do

black-1299077_640I followed my Google search result’s instructions for mixing and applying a violet-colored toner to cancel out the (pumpkin freaking orange) brassiness, though with a little less faith than I’d had in the YouTube tutorials from the previous step.  I washed out the toner, looked in the bathroom mirror and omigod my hair is purple panic panic panic why does the internet hate me panic panic just shave it all off and buy a wig–

Before I went completely V for Vendetta, I figured I might as well try playing the Friend Card.  To set the scene, this was 5:40 on a Sunday evening and the stores all closed at 6:00.  My friend took me to the drugstore, said nothing about the three scarves I had wound around my head, and calmed me down long enough to grab some hair dye in a fetching shade of normal.  It worked thank you sweet baby jesus i’ll never bleach my own hair again and, although my hair was basically straw for the next two months, it was straw of a normal color.  I’m calling that a win.

Of course, I’ve also been the one upon whom the Friend Card was played, and I think I’ve come through pretty well when it was my turn.  I mean, not everyone would be willing to pry the nails out of a coffin-sized wooden box her friend found in the basement of her new house and open it up to see if there’s a body inside:

The Time I Pried The Nails Out Of A Coffin-Sized Wooden Box My Friend Found In Her Basement And Opened It To See If There Was A Body Inside

The problem with living in a big city is that, when you move into your new home and find a large wooden box nailed shut and stowed in a dark corner of the basement and you call the police because the box is just the right size to contain a body, they tell you to open it yourself and not to call back unless the box turns out to, in fact, contain a body.  My friend learned this the hard way.  She couldn’t bring herself to open the box, though, so she friend-carded me— and then I got to learn it the hard way, too.

My friend had tried her best to work up enough courage to open the box on her own. However, in a case of what turned out to be monumentally poor planning, we had just celebrated her last night in her old house with a horror movie marathon that included Nosferatu.  After several hours of staring at the creepy mystery box and clutching a hammer that she was more ready to use as a weapon than as a tool, my friend finally caved and called me to come over and open it for her.  By then, it was closing in on midnight.

Of course I came over, and I brought a crucifix, some garlic, a wooden stake, and my neighbor’s handgun (just in case).  The wooden stake was really just one of my mixing spoons held the wrong way round and the garlic was the kind you buy in a jar, but I hadn’t had much notice.  As I pried out the last nail, I wondered if this was the point in the movie when the entire audience starts yelling “Don’t do it!  Just run!” and then I shoved off the lid before I could chicken out.  My friend, who by this time had turned mint green, stood ready with the mixing spoon as I looked into the box to find….

potatoes-1183623_640Potatoes.  Dozens and dozens of potatoes.  Turns out the house’s previous owner liked to buy them in bulk and store them in the basement in a creepy wooden box because apparently that makes them “keep” longer.  He’d meant to take the box with him when he moved, which is why he nailed it shut, but that corner of the basement was badly lit and he didn’t see the box during his final walk-through.  Still, I didn’t know that when I looked inside, so I totally get the Friend Card win on this one.

Everyone has played the Friend Card, and everyone has had the Friend Card played on them, and I’ve never heard of someone not coming through.  In my opinion, it’s one of the better qualities of the human race, right up there with empathy, imagination, and the inability to throw out your kid’s crappy handmade presents.  It gives me hope.

And to those of you who like to store your starchy tubers in giant scary coffins in the basement:  LABEL . YOUR . BOXES!  Seriously, who does that?  Potatoes.  Good grief.


[all images are in the public domain via]

Confessions Part One: Things I Accidentally Stole From My Friends

Sinner; copyright zgrredek on Flickr

Sinner; copyright zgrredek on Flickr

I think there’s an unspoken statute of limitations for things you accidentally steal from your friends.  You know how it is, you borrow a friend’s shirt one day, you mean to wash it and give it back.  Suddenly six months have gone by and you’re unpacking in your new apartment in a different city and you come across that shirt and you think, is it really worth mailing it back?  I’ll just give it to her the next time I see her.  Except, the next time you see her isn’t until someone is getting married and you’re so stressed about gifts and travel plans and horrible bridesmaids dresses that you forget all about the shirt.  Then you get back home, you see the shirt, you do a face palm slap, and you think, I’ve really got to remember to take that with me the next time I’m going to see her.  Except, the next time you see her is when there’s a funeral, and the last thing on your mind is your friend’s shirt.  Unless it’s your friend’s funeral, at which point you’re pretty much out of luck.

When you’ve borrowed an item and you forget (or “forget”) to give it back, I propose a time limit of three years during which time, if the item is demanded, you must return it as expeditiously as possible.  If the item is not demanded within those three years, you’re free to consider it yours and keep it guilt-free.  I have taken it upon myself to test this theory before making a public proposal, because that’s just how much I care.  Also because I kept forgetting to give the things back.  The statute of limitations has passed on each of the items in the test group, and I now consider them mine.  Here’s what I accidentally stole from my friends:

  1. A rock band T-shirt:  this is the quintessential item that you borrow and never end up returning, partly because you honestly don’t remember and partly because you subconsciously don’t want to remember because the T-shirt is so cool.  Mine is from the now-disbanded Marvelous 3, the most rawk-tastic band around when I was in college, and since they’re no longer together, there will be no more T-shirts ever.  The lead singer was Butch Walker, who is still around and making music (which is also rawk-tastic), but it’s not quite the same when you can’t just blow off your classes, drive for hours to some skanky club, and get back late afternoon the next day just in time to take a Phenomenology exam you didn’t study for.  Sorry, Michelle:  the shirt’s mine now!
  2. Books:  another very common entry on the list of Stuff People Borrow And Never End Up Giving Back.  At least one friend of mine has a policy of never lending books to anyone, even immediate relatives, for this very reason.  I borrowed 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez from an ex-boyfriend who, if I’m honest, I’m pretty sure had never read it and only kept it around to impress chicks.  I wasn’t dating him for his mind.  Anyway, I read the book and it was life-alteringly fantastic, which frankly my ex-boyfriend wasn’t, so I kept the book and got rid of him.
  3. Lipstick:  this one is mostly limited to women, though not always.  There’s a magic shade for each woman, and there’s no predicting it based on coloring or skin tone or anything.  You could have identical twins and each would have a different magic shade of lipstick.  It’s the shade that, when you put it on, it doesn’t just suit you perfectly, it makes you feel beautiful.  It gives you confidence just to know you’re wearing it.  When you go to replace it, it will inevitably have been discontinued.  I borrowed a tube of lipstick from a friend and it was my magic shade.  She let me use it for a long time because it’s part of the Girlfriend Code to help your girlfriends look fabulous, and eventually I think we both forgot it wasn’t originally mine.  I still have it, though there isn’t much left, because I’ve been hoarding it for things like dates where the guy actually takes me to a nice place.  As you can tell by the fact that there’s still some left, that doesn’t happen very often.  But when it does, I’m ready.

So here it is, my confession:  I accidentally steal things from friends.  To be fair, though, they accidentally steal things from me, too.  It’s kind of nice, really.  When you’ve all been friends long enough, your stuff tends to end up mixed together through some sort of friendship diffusion effect.  You’re over for dinner, and you comment on your friend’s candlesticks, and then you both squint at them and realize at the same moment–they used to be yours!  That’s OK, though, because you borrowed the necklace you’re wearing from her five years ago.  It all works out in the end.  Man, it feels good to get that off my chest!

Adulthood–Who’s Keeping Score?

hot pink grownups

hot pink grownups (Photo credit: niznoz)

Every so often, it gets brought home to me that I’m even worse at being an adult than I used to be at sports.  The most recent round of self-flagellation was brought about by the realization that my Mysterious Engaged Friend, now Mysterious Married Friend, has never been to my apartment.  The problem is mostly that, at any given time, my meal plan consists of Diet Coke and Doritos, I have a hamper full of dirty laundry that I can’t wash because I haven’t yet put away the clean laundry from last weekend’s chore-a-thon, and I’ve been saying I’ll mop the floor for approximately three weeks.  My total score at being a grown-up wouldn’t get me past the first elimination round.

It starts early in the morning.  I hit my snooze button about five times before I end up getting out of bed.  I always mean to get up early, hope to get up on time, and actually get up late. It continues with lunch; when I go grocery shopping, I always fondly imagine my lunch will be a healthy salad with chopped broccoli, grated carrots, and cherry tomatoes.  It usually ends up being stuff I got at the convenience store around the corner from where I work, so– pop tarts and fruit snacks.  Then, when I get home, I think “Oh, I’m totally going to do chores now.  This place is going to look great by the time I go to bed.”  It could happen.  No, it couldn’t.  That’s never going to happen.

But Mysterious Married Friend is moving away (sad!), so I invited her over, along with her husband and another friend.  I did this in total good faith, and also because my apartment is actually in fairly good shape for once, having been the subject of a recent cleaning marathon.  I forgot one vital fact, though:  I can’t cook.  At all.  I could have invited them over for tea, or a movie night, or–I don’t know–poker, but I didn’t.  As I sort through various takeout menus and wonder what would seem the least obvious when I serve it on my nice (read: not paper) plates, I can’t help but wonder if I’m alone in this.

And, you know, I don’t think I am.


Golfing (Photo credit: emersunn)

So I’d like to propose handicaps for adulthood, like they have for bowling and golf.  For me, I think I should be able to add on to my total score another 50% of what my Sainted Mother would have been able to do in the same situation.  If I can manage to have the dinner table completely clear by the time my friends come over, that’s like my mother having polished all the silver and ironed the tablecloth.  If I find takeout that suits everyone’s dietary restrictions and doesn’t cause an allergic reaction in anyone, that’s like my mother cooking a four-course meal.  Right now, my Sainted Mother is falling out of her chair laughing while thinking about all the Hamburger Helper she used to fix, which actually makes me feel better.  Ooh, Hamburger Helper!  I can totally manage that.

Problem solved.

Thanksgiving Stew

Here is the Little Blind Girl’s recipe for Thanksgiving Stew:


  • Eighteen relatives from four generations
  • A kitchen that can only hold three people
  • A turkey that’s been cooking since before dawn
  • Seven different desserts
  • Small children in dress clothes who’ve had too much sugar and not enough sleep
  • Half a dozen cars trying to share a driveway
  • Ten family stories that have been aged for at least five years
  • Assorted pets, dietary restrictions, conflicting commitments, & long-running grudges

English: Photo showing some of the aspects of ...

Directions:  Put the turkey in a home that hasn’t been this clean since last Thanksgiving.  Add the four generations of relatives gradually.  Sprinkle in the small children, the desserts, and the overcrowded driveway.  Let simmer, then add the kitchen that can only hold three people (beware of elbows) and the family stories (use liberally and without discretion).  Garnish with assorted pets, dietary restrictions, and conflicting commitments.  Add the long-running grudges to the after-dinner drinks.  Serve warm and eat until you fall asleep in your chair while watching football.  Serves:  a small nation.  Leftovers should last for approximately two weeks, depending on the strength of the grudges.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I’m grateful for each and every one of you.  Thank you for reading my blog, and being kind enough to let me know when you like it.

This is how people end up jumping out of planes

Two friends

Two friends (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was talking with some friends the other day.  We hadn’t spoken in a while, and we were comparing all the exciting developments in our lives.  Friend #1, a gorgeous blonde who compounds the offense by being both smart and nice, says “I just gave birth to my third child!”  This after posting a picture of herself on Facebook with said child while wearing a sheath dress and sporting a perfect tan.  Hate her.  No, I don’t.

Friend #2, a sexy dark-eyed brunette with lips people go through multiple painful surgeries to emulate, says “I just got promoted!  I’m now running the company I started working for when we graduated from school!”  I have her Christmas card in my apartment.  It has a picture of her with her huge, loving, crazy, amazing family all mugging cheerfully for the camera while seated around a truly fantastic-looking dinner table.  Hate her.  No, I don’t.  She sends me cookies.

Friend #3, another brunette with incredible light eyes that show up like stars against her dark skin, confides “It’s been four years since I was widowed.  I thought I would never love again, but I’ve found someone wonderful, and we’re getting married this fall!  It’s been a kind of miracle, the kids love him just as much as I do.  I’m so glad they’ll have a father-figure they really care about.”  Can’t hate her.  Really happy for her.

So then they all ask me what’s been going on in my life.  And there’s just nothing.  I’ve been scrounging around in my brain during the entire conversation, trying to come up with something, and I’ve got nothing.  What do I do?  Make something up?  Tell them about how I read the Hunger Games trilogy in one day?  I’m on the spot, and having a bad hair day to boot, and I blurt out “My blog got Freshly Pressed!”  Crickets.  Well-meaning, supportive crickets, but crickets nevertheless.  Finally, Friend #1 (and this is why I can’t hate her) says “That’s great that you’re still keeping a blog, honey!  I’ve always thought that’s so brave.”

And I thought:  That’s it, I’m going skydiving!

With this LBG, I thee wed

Engagement Ring

Engagement Ring (Photo credit: Lucas_James)

A friend of mine is getting married.  Yay!  And you know her, if you read the blog closely, but I’m not allowed to announce it formally yet.  Cue the crying, hugging, dancing around, promising we’ll always be friends even after she’s got a live-in boy, etc.  Then comes the important discussion:

Me:  What are you thinking as far as the ceremony?

Friend:  I’m kind of torn.  Courthouse is very tempting, but my family would be really hurt if they couldn’t participate in a traditional wedding.

Me:  Courthouse all the way, baby.  Wham, bam, thank you, your honor!

Friend:  But the wedding dress!

Me:  That you wear once!

Friend:  And the reception!

Me:  That lasts for one evening and costs more than your honeymoon!

Friend:  And the presents!

Me:  Oh, yeah, the presents are pretty sweet.

Friend:  But if I had a wedding, I’d have to get my makeup done.

Me:  I can do your makeup!

Friend:  I’d have to wear heels.  I hate heels.

Me:  Ballet flats.

Friend:  I don’t have a preacher.

Me:  Internet Church of the Spaghetti God.

Friend:  Wait.  Which one of us wants a wedding?

Me:  I can’t help it.  I always have to have the last word.

Friend:  I can see it now:  “Do you, [friend’s name omitted] take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?”  “I do.”  And do you, [Hot Fiance’s name omitted], take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?”  “I do.”  “And do you, Little Blind Girl, give your blessing to the union of this man and this woman?”  “I do.”  And only then will we be legally married!

Me:  Better believe it!

You think that’s bad, just wait until you read the yet-to-be-written post about the Little Blind Girl and the Open-Bar Reception!

Look! Elvis!

List of VeggieTales episodes

Image via Wikipedia

I was out with my girlfriends celebrating a birthday among us.  The path to the restaurant took us past a favorite clothing store of mine, one I always beg my friends to go in, I promise I’m just going to look at socks, really I mean it this time, and then I inevitably veer off toward shoes and general apparel once I’ve gone through the socks.  To avoid being dragged out of the store by my friends, I’ll usually point and say something like “Look!  Elvis!” and then run off in the opposite direction while they’re looking for the King.  What gets me about that technique is not that it works despite the fact that Elvis is dead, it’s that it works repeatedly on the same people.

This time, my friend turned to me and said, “Can you feel the vacuum from the sock store pulling you in?”  And I could, I really could, but what struck me most about that remark was the idea of a store entirely devoted to socks.  If we had such a place in my hometown, I’m not sure I’d ever leave.  I love socks.  I own about four pairs of socks for every pair of shoes.  I talk to my socks when I’m picking out which pair to put on.  I have froggy ankle socks that say “Ribbit” and knee-high stripey socks and full-length argyle tights, and everything in between.  If I pass a store that sells socks, I have to go in.  I have a problem, I know it, and I’m never, ever seeking help.

During my friend’s birthday dinner we were talking about the usual:  boys, hair, what to post on my blog.  I would drift off every so often and start imagining a socks-only store that sold socks of every type and description.  I’d come back to myself and rejoin the conversation only to drift off again a few minutes later.  One of my friends guessed what I was daydreaming of and said, “If that’s what you’re fixated on, I guess there are worse things to obsess over.”  I immediately responded, “Like Johnny Depp.  Ooh!  Shopping for socks with Johnny Depp!”  One friend said, “Now that’s a blog post topic!”  Another friend replied, “That’s a therapy session!”

I like to think we’re all correct.  In my head, I’m shopping for socks with Johnny Depp right now, and it’s marvelous.  I’m sure my therapist will agree.

Rainbow striped toe socks worn with thong sandals

Image via Wikipedia

Crackdified Trivial Pursuit

When we were in school, my friends and I played Trivial Pursuit in the snack bar.  There was only the one edition, year after year, so we eventually came to know all the answers.  Rather than moving on to another game, however, we just morphed that one into its own beast.  We would rope in more and more people into something that became an amalgamation of Charades, Twenty Questions, and Truth or Dare.  We called it Crackdified Trivial Pursuit.

The rules of Crackdified Trivial Pursuit, as far as there are any, are as follows:  you keep to the normal game directions until it comes time to give the answer.  If the person whose turn it is to answer the question is unable to think of the answer right away, those who know the answer because they’ve played that edition about a hundred times will start giving clues.  For instance:

Questioner:  What is the capital of Peru?

Peanut Gallery:  “Blank” beans!  “Blank” beans!  Oh, what do you mean you can’t get the answer from that?  All right, all right:  the flavor of Sprite is lemon-a, “blank”!

If the person still couldn’t get it, the rest of the players would start acting out the answer a la Charades.  “OK.  1 word, 4 letters.  Rhymes with…Wonder Woman?  Buffy the Vampire Slayer?  Oh, Xena!  The Warrior Princess??”

The person trying to answer the question could also ask questions to try to narrow down what the answer might be.  This was especially helpful in categories like Science and Nature, but less so in History; it doesn’t help to ask “Alive or dead?” if you’re trying to figure out the answer to “Who won the battle of Waterloo?”  At least, not unless your educational system has completely failed you.

Nachos with Chilli

Image via Wikipedia

We usually had a pretty good crowd going, so we could almost always get it by this point, but if that didn’t work and the person gave up, they had to take the questioner’s pick of Truth or Dare.  If the crowd was feeling restless and we agreed that it was the questioner’s fault, then the questioner had to take his victim’s choice of Truth or Dare.  Being starving students, we would also allow the person to avoid this by getting appetizers for the table.  Loaded nachos were favored, but resulted in some truly disgusting cards by the time graduation rolled around.

What strikes me most about this, though, is that there weren’t any teams and yet we were all trying to help each other win.  We just wanted to have a good time.  I’m not sure we ever even finished a game.  I miss that attitude.  I miss those nachos.  Also, I racked up some seriously inane knowledge this way.  Nobody needs to know what a thin layer of chromatography is.

P.S.  For those of you who are of age, this makes an awesome drinking game.  Play Crackdified Trivial Pursuit responsibly!  Can you believe my spellcheck doesn’t like the word “crackdified”?

The cat vs. the Hair

CC Image by red.dalia on Flickr

A friend of mine, who is beautiful and awesome and brilliant and all sorts of good things, is also the proud possessor of a head of very, very curly hair.  It’s the kind of hair that has so much body that you sort of suspect it of also having an independent mind–you know, working in tandem with the brain under her scalp, but occasionally going off and doing its own thing on, for example, rainy days.  Another couple of friends of mine are the proud owners of two cats with very defined personalities and certain ideas about the hierarchy in the household.  Our theory is that they’re only putting up with us until they figure out how to work the can opener.  In the meantime, though, they like to make sure they can jump on everything in the household in some sort of bizarre, repetitive exhibition of feline dominance.  I’ve given you all the pieces; can you figure out where this is going?

My Curly-Haired Friend was at the cat-owned apartment hanging out one night.  We were just kicking back, practicing Latin (no, seriously, that’s what we were doing.  That’s not at all code for something else).  Curly-Haired Friend was sitting on the floor, yelling Latin declensions; cats were prowling the furniture.  I looked away for a second and then I heard this almighty yowling, and then an extremely Anglo-Saxon shriek.  I looked back, and one of the cats had jumped onto my friend’s head and was attacking her hair!  Just jumped from whatever piece of furniture and seemed to be fighting the hair from six different angles at once.  I think he saw it as an enemy and was trying to subdue it.  My friends and I could have told him that was a hopeless battle, having watched our Curly-Haired Friend fight with her hair for years, but the cats never consult us when they make their plans.

Now, this is not just any hair.  This is Hair with experience, possibly with combat training. The Hair started fighting back.  Poor Curly-Haired Friend was letting out ungodly shrieks from underneath while the cat and the Hair battled it out on her head.  Eventually, the Hair forced the cat to jump off onto the floor, partly assisted by the mere mortals who were weakened by uncontrollable laughter, but mostly it was the Hair.  The cat immediately scooted off to some dark recess of the kind where cats go and licked his wounds, and I swear, I swear, the Hair started purring.  Neither of the cats has ever challenged the Hair’s dominance again.  We had to finish the Latin another night, though.  The Hair told us to.  And you do not mess with the Hair.

Thanksgiving: definitely my favorite holiday

I think it’s about the coolest thing I’ve ever heard that we have a national day of thanksgiving.  I also think it’s about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen that visual aids have advanced enough that I can now read all of these blogs and write my own.  I’m grateful for all the random readers who’ve left comments or liked my posts.  I’m grateful that I can then go and read their blogs and comment, or respond to their comments here, and have dialogues with people all around the country.  It’s amazing to me, and such a gift.  And I’m grateful for all the people who read my blog because they know me and love me, and who patiently read through all the posts because they know how much fun I have writing them.  Thanks to all of you.  You’re the best things in my life.

I can’t think of a better way to illustrate how this holiday brings people together and to show what I’m grateful for right now than to link to the blog that got me thinking I could write a blog.  It’s written by an Australian who lives in California, who presumably did not grow up fighting about who got to wear the Indian (sorry, Native American) costume and who had to be a Pilgrim.  Still, he takes the day to say thank you and to tell us what an awesome country we have.    How would I ever have even known he said that without all these blogs we keep?  Check him out, and have a happy Thanksgiving!